Why Am I Not Sleeping and How to Get a Better Nights Sleep

Why Am I Not Sleeping and How to Get a Better Nights Sleep

Some people believe that they only need a few hours of sleep each night, and sometimes a lack of sleep is simply unavoidable. Unfortunately, frequent sleep deprivation is incredibly detrimental to your health. Adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health. A lack of quantity or quality sleep can cause several health issues.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation include:

  • fatigue, irritability, and excessive daytime sleepiness
  • weight gain and difficulty losing weight
  • weak immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick
  • elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • chronic pain
  • mental illness, including depression and anxiety
  • reduced focus and concentration, leading to decreased performance at work
  • decreased motor function, making many tasks hazardous

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So, why are you not getting enough sleep? Below we have shared some causes of sleep deprivation.

1. Medications

Sleep medications are supposed to help promote sleep, but sometimes they can make the situation worse. Sleep aids frequently disrupt sleep cycles, rendering them ineffective. In the long run, you may become dependent on these sleep aids, building up a tolerance that requires you to regularly increase the dosage. Eventually, this leads to rebound insomnia, which makes it more challenging to fall asleep without medication. Before taking any sleep aids, make sure to consider all your options, paying special attention to any possible side effects.

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2. Thyroid Disease

Regular sleep disturbances can sometimes be attributed to hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid gland causes overstimulation of the nervous system, leading to difficulty sleeping and night sweats. The thyroid affects several different organs and systems in the body, so an overactive thyroid can manifest itself in several different symptoms. Thyroid function can be determined through a simple blood test, so consult with your doctor if you have concerns.

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3. Breathing Conditions

Those with emphysema or bronchitis may find falling asleep and staying asleep a challenge. This is usually due to excess sputum production, shortness of breath, and coughing. Some people also suffer from changes in the tone of the muscles surrounding the airways (considered to be circadian related). This leads to airway constriction at night, which may increase the possibility of nocturnal asthma attacks that cause you to wake. Breathing issues or the fear of an attack can increase anxiety, making sleeping even more difficult.

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4. Mental Health Status

Sleep problems can be tied to many different psychiatric conditions, and as such, the relationship between sleep and mental health can be quite complex. The symptoms of many mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, are exacerbated with sleep deprivation. This creates a vicious cycle – Sleep deprivation can lead to changes in mental health, but mental health issues are often exacerbated by the lack of sleep.

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5. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety can lead to serious sleep issues, such as insomnia. Excess worry and fear make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. In Psychiatry, anxiety is considered a nervous disorder that is typically accompanied by compulsive behavior and panic attacks. It is often characterized by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, which can make it increasingly difficult to rest your mind and sleep.

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6. Panic Attacks and Phobias

A phobia is an irrational fear or reaction that is usually realized by the individual but is still difficult to control. Sometimes the phobia can be sleep-related, such as Somniphobia (extreme anxiety and fear around the thought of going to bed). Knowing and treating the underlying phobias and panic disorders through therapy and medication may help.

7. Depression

It has been noted that serious depression often leads to insomnia. One of depression’s hallmarks is waking up too early in the morning, while others may find falling asleep incredibly challenging. Studies have shown that those who suffer from depression spend less time in slow-wave sleep and may enter REM sleep more quickly at the beginning of the night.

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8. Bipolar Disorder

Manic depression, also known as Bipolar Disorder, causes one to experience severe highs and lows. A manic episode can make it difficult to sleep for several days, which is then followed by a depressive state where the individual sleeps for days on end. This cycle can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. If you are regularly struggling with your emotions, it is important to talk with your doctor.

9. Neurological Disorders

Sleep Impairment may be due to some degenerative and vascular diseases and the discomfort brought about through motor immobility, social and familial impairment, and some medications used to treat these conditions.

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10 – Dementia

Many patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s experience a phenomenon called ‘sundowning’. This refers to a state of confusion and agitation that happens between late afternoon and evening, which can lead to pacing and wandering. It often affects the patient’s sleep cycle.

11 – Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and restarts repeatedly throughout the night. Symptoms of sleep apnea include excessive snoring, waking up choking or gasping for air, noticeable intermittent pauses of breathing during the night, and daytime drowsiness.

12 – Headaches & Migraines

Sleep deprivation can trigger headaches and migraines and conversely, headaches and migraines can disrupt your sleep.

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13 – Parkinson’s Disease

Studies show that those with Parkinson’s frequently suffer from insomnia. This can be due to tremors and movement. The use of sleeping pills may be a challenge as some medications can worsen Parkinson’s symptoms.

14 – Insomnia

Sleep disorders such as insomnia can be caused and exacerbated by stress, irregular sleep schedules, poor sleeping hygiene, mental health issues, physical disorders, pain, medications, sleep disorders, and a combination of other factors.

15 – Pain & Other Related Conditions

Pain can lead to inability to sleep and disrupted sleeping patterns. The lack of sleep can worsen the pain, which eventually becomes a cycle that never ends.

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How Much Sleep is Enough?

The amount of sleep needed can vary for individuals, depending on their age. In general, it is recommended that the average adult gets between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Teenagers should get at least 9 hours of sleep, and babies benefit from 16 hours of sleep per day.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?

It is important to learn how to take control of your sleep. A lot of factors need to be considered, but with planning and effort, it is doable. You just need to be patient and be forgiving. One day you may be doing well with your nightly routine, but the next day you are back to square one. Don’t be too hard on yourself – just persevere and take charge. Below are some pointers to help improve your sleep.

1. Develop a Sleep Routine

Here are some important tips to remember:

  • Observe a regular bedtime routine that includes a one-hour cooldown or relaxation period before sleeping.
  • Develop a sleep schedule that works with your wake-up time to ensure that you are getting the recommended hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise can improve sleep but avoid exercising 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid screen time (TV, computer, phone, tablet) for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Create a cool, quiet, dark, sleep-conducive environment.
  • Avoid checking the time. Do not put your clock in your line of sight during the night to avoid being anxious about the time.
  • Do not ‘try to sleep, simply let sleep happen. A proper mindset can make a big difference.
  • Do not consume caffeinated foods and drinks later in the day.
  • Schedule any medications and do not take drugs that contain caffeine before bedtime.
  • Do not eat late at night.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but can lead to a restless night.
  • Avoid smoking at least 2 hours before sleeping. Nicotine has a stimulant effect that can disrupt your sleep.
  • Clear your mind. Create a list of the things you need to do the next day. Clean up the mess you left, wash dishes, and do other household chores. Be mindful of the time so that you don’t miss your sleep schedule.
  • Never underestimate self-care. Nothing beats a fresh and clean feeling before sleeping.
  • Say a prayer, do some light stretching, or do some mindful meditation. It is all about slow, steady breathing. Work on observing your breath as air flows in and out. Feel the sensations as they arise and pass. Express your gratitude for the small things.

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2. Consider Foods That Can Help Improve Your Sleep

Many different foods have been linked to getting a better night’s sleep. Try adding some of the foods below to your diet to help you drift off to dreamland.

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Turkey
  • Kiwi
  • Tart Cherry Juice
  • Lettuce
  • Chamomile and other teas
  • Fatty Fish
  • Dairy Products
  • Oatmeal
  • Crackers and Cheese
  • Hummus

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3. Try Essential Oils

Essential Oils have long been considered beneficial for promoting restful nights. Several essential oils might help you rest, including lavender, vetiver, and roman chamomile.

4. Take Steps to Reduce Pain

Pain can really affect your ability to sleep and stay asleep, but sleep is necessary for healing. Take pain medications, herbs, teas, and other natural medications to help with the pain.  There is a wide range of treatment options and medications available for pain relief so make sure you explore all possibilities. Seek your doctor’s advice.

5. Supplements & Vitamins

Supplements such as Magnesium and Calcium, when taken together, can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Studies show that Magnesium can help increase sleep time and sleep efficiency, while Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid, tryptophan, to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance, Melatonin. Many people also benefit from taking a Melatonin supplement before bed. The potential link between sleep quality and dietary nutrients has important implications for health. It is best to consult your doctor especially if you are taking other medications for proper timing and dosage.

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Asleep deficiency is often disregarded but can become a serious health problem. Lifestyle changes can really make a difference but should your daytime activities and ability to function be affected, it is best to consult with your doctor. Frequently disrupted sleep, pain, heartburn, and difficulty breathing when sleeping may be a sign that you are suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders can take a toll on both your physical and mental health so don’t be hesitant to seek the help that you need.

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